The Year in Charts 2017: Ed Sheeran Is Top Artist, Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' Rules Billboard 200

Greg Williams
Ed Sheeran

Following a male-dominated year on the charts, the year-end top 10 rankings of the overall top artists, Billboard 200 albums & Billboard Hot 100 songs are all populated by men.

For the first time since 1984, the entire top 10 of Billboard’s 2017 year-end top artists ranking are all men. Ed Sheeran closes out the year as the top artist following the success of his second No. 1 Billboard 200 album, ÷ (Divide), and its multiple hit singles, including the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 song of the year, “Shape of You.” It’s the first time he has led either year-end list.

Explore All of Billboard's 2017 Year-End Charts

The 26-year-old singer-songwriter is the first British male soloist to be the year’s top artist (and only second ever) since George Michael was tops in 1988. (Billboard began compiling a year-end top-artist list in 1981.) 

Men so dominated Billboard’s biggest tallies during the 2017 chart year (which ran from Dec. 3, 2016, to Nov. 25, 2017-dated charts; reflecting the Nielsen Music tracking weeks ending Nov. 17, 2016 through Nov. 9, 2017) that they crowd the top 10 of all three of the biggest year-end lists: Top Artists, Top Billboard 200 Albums and Top Billboard Hot 100 Songs. No woman in a lead role ranks in that region of the three charts.

Where did all the ladies go? In 2017, the top of the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts were flush with hip-hop acts (generally a male-dominated genre), thanks in part to the continued rise of rap on streaming services. Further, two of pop’s biggest female stars, Adele and Taylor Swift, were between albums during most of the chart year. Adele was 2016’s top artist, following the 2015 release of her 25 album. (She was also the top artist in both 2011 and 2012.) Swift, who was the top artist in 2009 and 2015, did not release Reputation in time for the 2017 chart year, though her single “Look What You Made Me Do” did crown the weekly Hot 100 at the tail end of the period. (As Reputation was released on Nov. 10, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 dated Dec. 2, it will factor into Billboard's 2018 year-end charts. And of course, it will most likely finish as Nielsen Music's top selling album of the 2017 calendar year, when Billboard reports on the company's year-end data during the first week of January 2018.)

On the 2017 Top Artists list, the highest-ranking woman is Ariana Grande, at No. 15. In fact, only eight female soloists are among the top 40 artists of the year. Since Billboard began compiling an overall top-artist category for its year-end tallies in 1981, this is only the third time the entire top 10 have been solo men or all-male acts. It last happened in 1984, when Lionel Richie ruled the roost, while the top-ranked woman was Cyndi Lauper, at No. 11. Before that, 1983 was also a rough year for the ladies, as Laura Branigan was the champ for women at No. 15, while Michael Jackson was No. 1.

Not a single woman is in the top 10 on the 2017 year-end Billboard 200 albums and Hot 100 songs rankings as a lead act. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the top album. The highest-ranked year-end Billboard 200 album by a woman is Rihanna’s 2016 release, ANTI, at No. 23. During the 2017 chart year, just six of the 39 No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 were by women.

On the year-end Hot 100 recap, chart-ruler “Shape of You” spent 12 weeks atop the list and broke the record for the longest run ever in the top 10: 33 weeks. The track debuted at No. 1 on the Jan. 28 list and didn’t leave the top 10 until the Sept. 16 tally.

Meanwhile, Halsey (as a featured artist) is the lone representative for women in the year-end Hot 100 top 10, as the guest artist on The Chainsmokers’ 2016 chart- topping “Closer,” at No. 7. The first lead woman on the Hot 100 tally ranks at No. 17: the co-billed Zedd and Alessia Cara duet “Stay.” Only two of the Hot 100’s 11 No. 1 singles in 2017 were by women: Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” and Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves).” 

On the Top New Artists year-end list, breakthrough rapper Cardi B is the highest-ranked woman, at No. 7. Topping the chart is rapper Lil Uzi Vert, who notched a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Luv Is Rage 2 and four top 40 hits on the weekly Hot 100, including a featured turn on Migos’ No. 1 “Bad and Boujee.” 

Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during the span of Dec. 3, 2016, to Nov. 25, 2017. The year-end Top Artists category ranks the best- performing acts of the year based on activity on the Billboard 200 albums tally and the Billboard Hot 100 singles list, as well as streaming, social media and Billboard Boxscore data. Data registered before or after a title’s chart run is not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-to-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music.

Billboard Year in Music 2017